Comfort In The Panic.

“I don’t like my mind right now, stacking up problems that are so unnecessary. Wish that I could slow things down, I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic…” – Chester Bennington 

 

Silence, a sought after treasure that’s rarely found in our world today. Our world seems to be filled with so much chaos that moments of silence are priceless. I guess that’s why they say, “silence is golden.”

However, when living with a Mental Health Disorder, silence can feel deadly. I don’t want to listen to my thoughts, the never ending battle that’s constantly raging in my head.

I’m a casualty of an invisible war that no one sees and few understand.

Some may wonder how panic can bring a sense of peace. Heck, I myself question that statement every day. I long for serenity yet when I get it, it terrifies me.

If you personally know me, you know that I constantly have some sort of music playing and that I have to fall asleep with my TV on. My thoughts, no matter what time of day, become almost unbearable when they aren’t being stifled by some sort of noise.

When I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and the 10 years that followed), I couldn’t muster up the courage to confront my anxious thoughts. They were overwhelming, terrifying and insufferable.

It took me many years of hard work and therapy to confront those dreaded monsters in my head. How can mere thoughts hold so much power?

That’s the unexplainable part of Mental Health Disorders such as Anxiety. I can’t explain it fully. I can only type out my thoughts on this page in hopes that it will give people even a fraction of understanding.

Panic is defined as “uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.” How ironic it is that I often feel more comfort in such chaos than in stillness.

Anxiety is a twisted, vicious disorder.

I think the most relevant reason that Mental Health Survivors, like myself, thrive in panic is because it becomes the norm. I constantly hear the thoughts in my head, and this is my daily reality.

I think that in some ways I create my own chaos which fuels my anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle that I can’t seem to escape. I constantly push myself to do more, be more, achieve more, and ultimately that pressure turns into uncontrollable anxiety.

In my mind, if I’m not achieving something I’m useless. Don’t ask my why my brain is wired that way because I have no clue. The need to do, to accomplish, fuels my reason for existence. It gives me purpose.

The fact that I thrive in a panic-driven environment only causes my surroundings to become more chaotic. Eventually, I’m neck deep in madness that starts to suffocate me. I cry and I question, “why can’t I just feel normal?”

I’ll never understand how a Type A, OCD person (myself) can even function in such an environment. The frustration of dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is something that, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to fully explain.

Anxiety Disorder is living with a set of constant oxymorons. I’m anxious so I need quiet, but the quiet makes my anxiety worse. I long for calm, but I desire chaos. I want to find my special person, but I also need to deal with this alone.

I want someone to comfort me, but I want no one around. I need order and structure, but my mind is a constant mess. I can get through this, but I don’t know how I’m going to live the rest of my life dealing with this.

I’m sure you can see what I mean by frustrating.

Even though life with Anxiety can seem overwhelming and unbearable, I constantly find a strength inside of me to go on. I look around at my family and friends, and they bring me calm in my panic.

There has never been a day where I’ve thought about giving up, but I know some can’t say the same. I understand the suffering that accompanies a Mental Health Disorder and the shame that comes with it.

There is still a stigma associated with Mental Illness, and I’ll never understand why. The world wonders why people don’t seek help, but it’s because of the labels that come with reaching out.

They wonder why we continue to live in our panic, our chaotic surroundings, yet never have the courage to talk about such controversial issues. I refuse to let society label me in a negative way. I refuse to sit back and not use my voice.

People fear what they don’t understand, and Mental Health is unfortunately still extremely misunderstood.

So if, like me, you have a messy mind, remember that it’s okay to thrive in panic. It’s okay to live your life how you’re able to manage it. If chaos brings you serenity then let your life be a crazy masterpiece.

The more I’ve explored my Anxiety, the more I’ve come to learn about myself and what works for me. Sometimes that means chaos, and sometimes (rarely) it means silence.

There’s no manual for this thing called life, and there sure as heck isn’t a manual for living with a Mental Health Illness. Never let anyone make you feel bad because of the things that make you, you.

Find your comfort in the panic, and be proud of your unexplainable, beautiful, messy mind. The most chaotic thoughts often create the most amazing things.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

 

 

Life Through The Eyes Of A Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

“They ride tricycles in the hallway, not in the park. They know the names of treatments instead of their classmates. Their central lines have names. Nurses and doctors are their new family. They think hair is overrated. Their laughter can make a heart melt. Their strength will make a grown person cry. If you have ever seen a child fight cancer, it will change your life forever!”

 

My alarm goes off at 5:10am, and I slowly drag myself out of bed. It’s time for another day of work at the hardest job I’ll ever love because I’m a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

As soon as I’m up and around, my mind is filled with anxiety. I’ve had a few days off of work so I’m not sure how the unit has been lately. I start to worry that I’ll have a terribly hard assignment or that I’ll end up losing one of my favorite patients.

Still, I push through the worry and get ready to go.

On the drive to the Children’s Hospital I listen to my favorite Christian radio station, trying to get some motivation and encouragement for what is undoubtedly going to be a tough day.

There’s never an easy day as a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I pull up to the hospital, and my anxiety starts to quickly climb. I park my car in my favorite parking spot, grab my bag and head inside. I walk to the other side of the hospital, and as I start to near my unit my fear reaches an uncomfortable level as I wonder what assignment I’ve been given today.

I’m scared that I’ll be taking care of the dying child or maybe even the difficult family. Will I get the kid who needs 5 chemo’s or the 3 year old patient who hates me and everyone around?

I start to wonder if I’ll be taking caring for one of my favorite patients or get a newly diagnosed patient. Will I have the uncooperative teenager who wants nothing to do with me or the family who frequently reassures me that I’m a great Nurse?

I think all of these things before it’s even 7am.

My heart races as I get report from the night nurse who’s obviously had a rough night. I find out there’s 2 end of life patients on the floor that could pass at any minute and 2 newly diagnosed patients whose families have a million questions (rightfully so).

You see, most people have this preconceived notion that, as nurses, we simply give meds and take vital signs. They have no clue what life looks like through our eyes, the eyes of a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I say “Pediatric CANCER Nurse” instead of Oncology because it makes it more real. Oncology is an elaborate way of saying the dreaded “C” word, the word that no one wants to hear.

I can only image that hearing “your child has cancer” is like stabbing someone with a knife and twisting it.

You see, the families and patients are the ones directly affected. Their lives are forever changed by those few short words. Parents bring their child to the hospital for a nosebleed only to find out that they have Leukemia.

Everything around them quickly changes, and they’re brought to the Hematology/Oncology unit where they’re given an enormous amount of information all while trying to process this life-altering news.

It has to be scary, overwhelming and painful to say the least.

And while the families and patients are the ones most affected, no one ever hears the experience from the Nurse’s point of view … until now.

You see, when a patient and family come in for the first time I’m terrified. I wonder if the family will like me, if we will get along or if the child will approve of me. I question if I’ll be able to help them process this terrifying news or if they’ll even let me in.

I become so attached to my patients that I can’t even explain the love I have for each of them. I would do anything to make them smile or to make them happy for even a mere second.

I’ve been a part of brutal nerf gun wars between patients and the nurses. I’ve pretended to be a princess, power ranger, dinosaur and race car driver. I’ve gotten down on all fours to play with my patients and let them squirt me with saline syringes just to get them to take their medications.

I’ve held patients as I rocked them to sleep, rubbed their backs when they were hurting and talked for hours on end about absolutely nothing at all. I’ve cried so many tears and shared so many laughs with them that I’ve lost count.

I’ve watched patients break out of the Bone Marrow Transplant unit and attended parties to celebrate the smallest of accomplishments. There’s no small wins in Pediatric Cancer.

I’ve seen the strongest children imaginable fighting a terrifying disease without any fear or worry. I’ve watched their hair fall out and their little bald heads emerge, and I’ve reassured them that bald is beautiful.

I’ve seen kids who were never supposed to make it beat the odds like it was nothing. Their courage constantly motivates and inspires me. If I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is see their face and instantly I am okay.

I’ve also watched patients dwindle away to nothing and held their hands as they slowly drifted off to a final sleep. I’ve sang songs to patients with tears streaming down my face as I watched them take their last breath.

I’ve held it together as I completed postmortem care and completely broke down when I got to my car. Somehow I learned to keep it all inside until I was alone, and then the floodgates break.

I’ve cried with families and hugged them for hours on end, just letting them know I was there. I’ve attended too many funerals and spoke of my favorite memories of past patients with my co-workers and families.

You see, being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse has changed me forever. It has shown me that life truly is short and that time is precious. It has reminded me that things can always be worse and that life is beautiful.

I started to see life through a totally different perspective, and I still carry each patient that I lost with me in my heart. I can tell you every name of every patient I’ve been close to. I can remember how they took their meds, their favorite TV show and what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse opened my eyes to the big picture in life. As I watch my patients battle a tough opponent without fear, I am constantly reminded to be strong, resilient and unwavering in my faith.

As Pediatric Cancer Nurses we love hard, we celebrate big and we try our best to bring a glimmer of light in some of the darkest times. It’s a privilege to be able to do what we do, to hold the hand of a dying child and to celebrate the victory of another.

We comfort the grieving and celebrate the ones who beat the odds. We remember those whom we’ve lost, and we look forward to visits from those who are now cancer free.

I’m forever grateful for the perspective I was given by choosing Pediatric Cancer Nurse as a career. No one will ever understand how or why we do what we do, and that’s okay. It’s not meant for anyone else to comprehend.

This job is a calling, these patients are unforgettable, these families are remarkable and these memories are ones that I will cherish forever.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋 

 

 

** September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood Cancer only receives 4% of the national budget from the National Cancer Institute. Our kids deserve MORE. This month be sure to #GoGold for Childhood Cancer Awareness and spread the word. Check out http://www.EraseKidCancer.org for more ways you can help! **

 

 

SomeOne. SomeDay. SomeHow.

“One day someone will walk into your life and get it right where everyone else got it wrong. One day you won’t have to wait for a call or a text back. One day you won’t be the only one giving your all …” – Anonymous

 

They say that someone, someday, somehow will come into our lives and change us forever. We’re told that everyone has a special someone, a soulmate with whom they spend their lives. Supposedly this person is predestined.

We’re told that someday things will all start to make sense. That all of our pain and heartache, laughter and tears will finally reveal their purpose.

While I can’t wait for this day, I also have doubts about the accuracy of these stories, unfortunate doubts that this evil world has put in my head.

Can someone really change your life to that capacity?

You see part of living with anxiety is being impatient, doubtful and unable to totally deal with the ebb and flow of life. We’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We find it hard to get excited about people or things because most of the time people only let us down. We battle with our constant highs and lows so often that most times we feel like we’re riding a damn roller coaster.

This is a mere glimpse into the surface an anxious mind and heart.

They say one day we’ll discover the meaning of our journey and that all of God’s plans will be revealed to us. We’ll finally understand why we had to go through all our trials and tribulations.

In a way that terrifies me. What if I don’t like the answer? What if God’s plan isn’t what I envision for my life? Despite the anxiety that comes along with discovering such an enormous truth, I wish that day could be today and that time could be now.

Honestly, I’m starting to run low on faith.

I’ve heard it said that someday you’ll find the love of your life, that special someone that makes you feel complete. In movies we see it portrayed as fireworks and ooey gooey romance.

I know that’s not reality, but just finding that someone has to bring a level of comfort and bliss.

I have a really back and forth mindset about love. Somedays I want it more than anything else. I truly want to find that one person that’ll be in my corner and have my back no matter what.

I long to find that someone who will love me for exactly who I am without judgement or expectation. I want to explore the world with them, plan my dream wedding and eventually have a family.

I often find myself fantasizing about these magical moments, but then reality hits and I can’t even imagine ever finding my person.

It also doesn’t help that I’ve never had a stable, healthy relationship so I’m not sure I’m going to know what to do when I find the one. I’m hoping there’s truth to the “you’ll know when you know” saying.

I guess you could say fear of the unknown goes hand in hand with anxiety. We’re doers, planners, list makers … we don’t like things being out of our control. However, this is one aspect of my life that I’m powerless, and I hate that feeling.

I feel like I’ve been let down so many times in love that each time a fragment of my heart (and hope) is chipped away. I fight hard not to let myself fall for someone, but in the end I always fail.

My heart only has two settings: love completely or not at all. Because of this, I find myself picking up the pieces of my heart over and over again.

I want nothing more than to find that someone that will someday and somehow come into my life and unexpectedly sweep me off my feet. I yearn for the day when I can love full force without risk of tragic heartache.

I just wish someone could prove to me that this fairytale love truly exists.

To top it all off, society makes us feel like we should be married and having children in our early 20’s. If you aren’t in a relationship people start to wonder what’s wrong with you. They question why you’re single.

This is so frustrating to me. I’m a human with feelings, hopes and dreams. Do you think I want to be single? Do you think I like being alone? Yet the questions never seem to end, and after a while you also begin to think something’s wrong with you.

I’ve had to dig myself out of this self-doubt hole a time or two. It took me years of therapy and inner work to realize that I’m worthy of true love and that I have a right to wait for the man of my dreams.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being picky.

If anything waiting for that someone protects my heart from being shattered yet again. It shields my emotions and strengthens my independence. I’ll never need a man, and that my friends is power.

I feel as if love is just another roller coaster in my life, full of ups, downs, twists and turns. However, this is one instance where my anxiety has been an asset to me. You see, roller coasters no longer scare me for they’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

With the highs, lows, loops and adrenaline comes adventure and thrill. While my anxiety doesn’t exactly love the excitement and stimulation, the rush reminds me that I’m alive. It reminds me that I have so much to life left to live.

So I’ll continue on the unpredictable ride of life until my someone makes it to me someday, somehow.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

It’s Not The Darkness That Scares Me.

“I don’t know what it’s like to not have deep emotions, even when I feel nothing, I feel it completely.” – A. R. Asher

As a child we’re told scary stories about monsters that lurk in the darkness. We sleep with a nightlight and hide our heads under the covers, afraid of what may be hiding in the shadows.

At such a tender age, monsters seem to be the most frightening things we could ever imagine. It’s not until we become adults that the real terror reveals itself to us.

You see, it’s not the darkness that scares me. Instead it’s my never-ending thoughts of worry and the paralyzing numbness that haunt my body, my mind and my soul.

It seems like every time I’ve almost gotten myself out of that dark place, anxiety pulls me right back in. The darkness doesn’t scare me. If anything it gives me a sense of solitude from my own messed up mind.

What seems to affect me the most is not the freedom that comes from reaching the light at the end of that tunnel nor the dark tunnel that precedes it. It’s the never ending struggle, the tug of war feeling, that I’m forced to live through every day.

You see, having Generalized Anxiety Disorder means fighting a constant, daily battle. Most people can’t fully comprehend this, and I’m happy that they don’t understand. That just means they’ve fortunately evaded a frustrating, lifelong journey of obstacles.

Having a Mental Health Disorder is like wearing a ball and chain. Those who deal with these diseases can seem “normal” and act like everything’s perfect, but in reality we’re being mentally hindered by our own minds.

Sure, I can overcome my disorder from time to time, and I’ve even learned to somewhat manage it. Yet, in the long run it comes back to find me again and again. There is no escape.

While dealing with constant anxiety is tough enough, I also struggle with my faith in love, humanity and sometimes even God. I try to wait patiently for the things that I know God has planned for me, but my anxiety tears me down.

It points out how all of my friends have moved on with their lives to have successful careers, significant others and children, events and playdates. Each time I reach out to someone they’re unavailable because they’re busy with their own lives.

This is all completely normal in the evolution of life, but when I feel like I’m getting left behind it allows my anxiety to take over. It causes me to lose faith, to feel numb to the world around me. It causes me to slowly lose hope.

The worst part of it all is that I try my hardest to shut down my negative thoughts, to listen to the light within my heart, to be the bright, radiant person that I know I am.

Nevertheless, the dark silence is louder than the positive whispers in my ear, and in this moment right now, my disorder is winning.

It’s the most frustrating feeling to fight an invisible, daily battle that no one else can see. I can try to explain it to others, but they’ll never truly understand the struggle and pain that I go through.

While the darkness in my mind can be scary, it’s the numbness that I occasionally feel that truly terrifies me. I’m not talking about “my foot fell asleep” sensation. I’m talking about the “I’m here but I don’t feel like I’m even present in my own body” type of feeling.

It’s hard to describe, but when I get in that mode I’m essentially a zombie. I go through the motions of everyday life, but I’m not actually present. My mind is a million miles away, and my body is a mere vessel.

Those moments terrify me the most because they make it difficult to recover. Each time I fall into a paralytic mental state, I find it harder and harder to make my way back to reality.

It get’s tough because those moments are the only moments where I’m truly free from my mind. I have no thoughts, no worries, just complete serenity. However, I always find that those times are usually followed by depression … another enemy of mine.

I constantly battle with myself, knowing what I should be doing but hardly having the strength to power through my anxious thoughts. Then comes the anger. I get so mad that I can’t just “fix” myself. It’s a never ending roller coaster of emotions.

So you see, the darkness doesn’t scare me anymore. It’s the monsters lurking in my mind that truly terrify me, trying to convince me everyday to give in to the sadness, depression, anxiety and fear.

For now, I’ve once again defeated their attempts, but for the rest of my life I’ll have to fight this never-ending battle.

No matter how long and tough the journey may be, I’ll forever strive to reach the light at the end of that tunnel because I am stronger than my disorder.

The battle will rage on until the monsters give up, the numbness disappears and the light is the only thing I see.

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

We’re Only Human.

But I’m only human and I bleed when I fall down. I’m only human and I crash and I break down. Your words in my head, knives in my heart, you build me up and then I fall apart ’cause I’m only human…” – Christina Perri

 

So many things in life try to drag us down, constantly making us feel worthless, unloved and unwanted. Fears creep into our mind, along with our anxious thoughts, and those fears start to tear us down a little at a time.

There’s no warning, no flashing sign to tell us what’s coming our way. There’s nothing that can prepare us for the error of human ways, for heartache and deceit.

People are bound to let us down, I mean we’re only human after all. Yet, it’s how we react to those moments of heartache and misery that truly reveal ourselves to the world. If we over-analyze every moment or every word, we’re setting ourselves up for a let down.

So in those moments of sadness, when you’re tired of trying, I hope you remember that things will always get better. The moments of darkness will always be overcome by light. The pain will eventually fade and the heart will repair itself.

That’s just how we’re wired.

When you find yourself tired of trying, I encourage you to look inward and remind yourself of how you too are human. There have been times when you’ve been on the other side of the hurt.

You’ve probably done something unintentionally that negatively effected another. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that makes you human.

The difference between being human and being inhumane is effort. If you put in the effort to right your wrongs or fix what you may have broken, then you should rest easy knowing you tried.

If you think “tough luck” or expect someone to get over it then you are the darkness that fills this world. No matter what the circumstance, it’s up to us as friends, family, co-workers, people to acknowledge the error of our ways and try to make amends. Again, it all comes down to “try.”

All we can do in this life is try … try to be a good friend, a good person. Try to be strong, to be brave, to be tough. Try to keep it together, to not let them see you struggle. Try to put our feelings aside, to put others first, to listen without taking offense to their words.

We can only try to put one foot in front of the other without falling to pieces … to try to make the right decisions and do the best we can. All we can do is try our hardest in all things, and if people can’t appreciate our efforts then they don’t deserve our presence.

That’s another thing. When someone is dealing with a Mental Health Disorder, it’s imperative for us to practice self-preservation. We’re terrible at it because we want to believe the good in others, but ultimately if we’re unable to realize who truly does and does not belong in our lives then we self destruct.

After all, we’re only human.

This thing called life is a difficult journey filled with enormous amounts of pain, growth, happiness, sadness, regret, joy and decisions. Those who suffer from Mental Health Disorders encounter extra obstacles, but each struggle we face makes us stronger in the end.

All we can do through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns, is try to hold on for the ride and make the best out of each situation we’re given. If people let us down we have to find our voice and the courage to express our feelings.

If someone makes us happy, we have to conquer our fears of rejection and disappointment and give them a chance. We have to learn to quiet our anxious minds and remember that we only have one life to live so we might as well live it.

Heartache and pain will undoubtedly find us, but if we keep pushing on we’ll find either a lesson or a blessing in each situation. We can’t let the tragedy that fills our world keep us from spreading our light.

We may only be human, but we have so much to offer. We have love to give, memories to make and a short time to do it all. Therefore we can’t let anything, especially our anxious thoughts, hold us back from a wonderful life.

People will always let us down and that’s okay because we too are flawed. We too cause pain to those we love. No matter how hard we try we’re not perfect and never will be. Yet if we strive to be the best person we can be, we find that opportunity and happiness start to present themselves in our lives.

We need to remember that every single breath we’re given is a precious gift that should not be wasted because one day our breath will flee and our souls will vacate this world … we’re only human, after all.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

A Single Pringle Valentine’s (Self Love 101).

“Self love is an ocean and your heart is a vessel. Make it full, and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.” – Beau Taplin

 

Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite holiday and has been for as long as I can remember. Some people have asked me “why,” and the answer is simple…it’s a day dedicated of love.

Every year I get to see happy couples sharing their love for one another and celebrating love. The stores are filled with pinks and reds of every kind, and honestly just seeing all the mushy gushy stuff puts a smile on my face. What can I say, I’m a hopeless romantic.

While I am well aware that I’m single, I don’t let that dull even one moment of this heart-warming day. Why sulk instead of using this holiday to celebrate self-love? Who says you can’t buy yourself a gift and acknowledge how amazing you are?

There’s a few different stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day, but they all have one common denominator … love. Each story ends in tragic death over love (how romantic, right?) led by none other than St. Valentine.

While Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to express your love and gratitude for the important people in your life, it’s also a great day for single people too. This year I’ve decided to buy myself a present and take myself out on a date, and I can’t wait!

This idea may seem silly to some, but taking care of yourself (mind, body and spirit) is more important than we even realize. We’re so quick to project our love to others and place them first in our lives, never truly understanding that this is wrong.

Love of self is not just a concept, it’s a necessity. When we don’t fill our souls with positivity and validation we end up feeling empty with nothing left to give. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, you can’t pour out love from an empty cup.

With this being said, I believe getting to truly know ourselves is crucial, but it’s also uncomfortable. We go through our lives with our day-to-day routines often forgetting to stop and evaluate where we are inside.

I always thought I was super confident until I took a minute to look in the mirror. I had been dealing with a few self-esteem issues so my therapist told me to look in a mirror and say “I love you. I never imaged that saying those three words to myself would be so tough.

In 25 years of life I’d never taken just one single minute to really look in the mirror at myself. I’d always been in a hurry to put on my makeup or do my hair before starting my day. I never knew that all that time I’d been staring at a stranger.

Once I realized how disconnected I was with myself I decided to start the journey of self-love. I started researching exercises, books, anything I could do to learn who I was and how I could love that person in the mirror.

A few years and countless hours of staring in the mirror, reading inspirational books and seriously focusing on positive self talk I was able to say those three words. Not only did I say them, I believed them, and man it was the best feeling ever.

It was like something inside of me awakened from a 27 year sleep. I felt more alive than ever and suddenly realized that all of the things I’d been searching for in others I’d had inside all along. This moment catapulted my evolution into the strong, independent woman that I am today.

It’s crazy what happens when we really start to love ourselves. We become more confident, more aware, stronger, braver and more alive than ever before. We start to see things from a whole new perspective and finally learn our self-worth.

This new sense of self becomes a building block for not only our relationship with ourselves but with others as well. We learn what we will and will not tolerate in a romantic relationship or friendship, and in turn we build healthy connections that positively impact our lives.

So as silly as it sounds, self-love is the foundation of our lives. While being single is tough in our generation, we can actually use it as a positive to get to know ourselves. The world tries to tell us that we need to be married with kids by 23 years old. I’m here to tell you that is a lie.

If we take the time to learn who we are and work on becoming the best possible versions of ourselves, we open the door to healthy relationships that are usually more beneficial in the long run.

If someone tries to tell you that self-love is selfish, they are sadly mistaken because those who have gone down this path know it’s not selfish but imperative to our well-being. Keep strong in your path and don’t let anything others say affect your journey.

This Valentine’s Day if you’re alone and a single pringle like myself, take it as a blessing. Recognize it as the amazing opportunity that it is and learn to honestly love yourself. Nothing good comes from self-pity but something wonderful can come from inner work.

I encourage you to get dolled up, buy yourself a gift and treat yourself how you’d want a future partner to treat you. It may feel silly at first but when we learn to date ourselves we learn exactly what we want in a future spouse.

On February 14th you’ll find me wearing my best dress and drinking a glass of wine at my favorite restaurant at a table for one. I may get questionable looks from the couples next to me, but I don’t care because I’m confident and love myself. Can you say the same?

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

Mental Illness: Disorder NOT Decision.

“Anxiety is the most silently painful experience. It makes no sense and you sit there alone and suffer for an unknown reason. You can’t explain it, and you can’t stop it. It merely is.” – Anonymous

 

How could you think I want to feel this way? Do you think the never ending fear and dread is something I look forward to each day? You say I do it for attention, that I’m making it all up. How dare you.

You don’t believe me when I tell you my heart is pounding so fast that I feel like I’m having a heart attack. You scoff when I say I’m dizzy, scared and confused which only makes me feel worse.

I tell you I have anxiety, and you act like you don’t believe me. I open up to you about what I go through, and instead of helping you laugh. I’m glad you think this is funny because I feel like I’m dying.

You’ll never understand the fatigue that comes along with being in a constant state of fight-or-flight. You think I’m lazy when really my mind has been running a marathon. You can’t see my suffering so you don’t believe that it’s there, but trust me it’s there.

When I tell you I’m feeling anxious you tell me to “get over it” because “everyone has anxiety.” I try to explain to you that this is different, but you don’t want to hear it. You mock me and leave never realizing that you’ve completely shattered me.

You get frustrated with me because I tell you that I can’t get out of bed. You call me pathetic and worthless then walk out of the room. Little do you know that I’m paralyzed by my mental illness, and every time I wake up I’m forced to fight another battle.

You get mad and tell me I’m a terrible friend because I cancelled plans with you. You say you’re never hanging out with me again because I’m a flake. Unbeknownst to you I’m sitting on my bathroom floor crying uncontrollably for no reason, unable to move.

I try to tell you I’m sorry and that I’ll make it up to you, but you say you don’t want to hear my excuses. You curse under your breath and hang up on me not knowing that your hatred just sent me over the edge.

Not only do you hate me, but now I hate myself. I take every single word you said to heart and start telling myself how worthless I am. I repeat your harsh words over and over until they’re stuck in my mind, and then I start believing them.

After a while, I somehow find the strength to pull myself out of the darkness. I begin to have a social life and finally start to feel like a normal person. You ask me on a date, and I say yes with pure excitement.

You pick me up, and we go to dinner. We start talking about ourselves, and I decide to bring up my anxiety. Instantly your face changes, and you shut down. You take me home and tell me that you just can’t deal with my disorder. Then I never hear from you again.

Never will you realize that you’re a perfect example of why I gave up on love in the first place. I start telling myself how stupid I was to think anyone could ever love me, and you send me straight back to that dark place in my mind.

I fill my days with mindless TV and junk food just looking for something to ease the pain. I do anything I can to numb the overwhelming feelings and emotions because, despite what you think, I don’t want to feel them.

You say you’re finally ready to try and understand my anxiety disorder. You apologize for all the things you said and tell me you didn’t mean them. You sit me down and ask me to tell you what’s going on, but yet again I disappoint you.

I wish I could tell you what’s going on in my mind, but I can’t even explain it to myself. I tell you as much as I can, and when I look over at you you’re crying. You finally start to see exactly what I’m going through, and it breaks your heart.

We sit together in silence, crying and hugging each other. I finally feel somewhat understood and loved, something I haven’t felt in a long time. The biggest weight is lifted from my shoulders when you tell me I’m not alone. You’ll never know how good that feels.

With every day that passes I start to feel a little stronger, and the sun slowly starts to brighten my dark place. For the first time in a long time I begin to think that just maybe I can live a happy life despite my anxiety.

Mental illness is a disorder not a decision. No one asks for this curse, and sadly some don’t survive it. No one that suffers with these disorders did anything to deserve them. They were merely woven into our DNA.

Because there is no cure all we, who suffer from these conditions, can do is learn to live with them by taking it one day at a time. We have to surround ourselves with those who are patient with us and love us despite our flaws.

Support is critical to those of us who are dealing with these issues. We’re our biggest critics and therefor we don’t need anyone in our lives that will add to our already overwhelming negativity. If you aren’t here to help us then leave.

Although mental illness is not a decision, it is up to us to fight for our happiness. We can’t let our disorder consume us or dictate what kind of life we live. Ultimately, we control our minds.

So when the darkness starts creeping in, hold on to this…you are not your disorder, and you are not alone. The sun will shine again and when it does, it will be beautiful.

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋